Anna Hazare is the latest name flashing in current Indian news headlines for his role in leading India’s fight against corruption. He has taken this fight very seriously and is now challenging the government at the highest level, as Anna is on a Hunger Strike. The common man and well-known personalities alike are supporting him in this new stage of protest.
Though the Indian government is trying hard to come up with a Lokpal Bill draft that will satisfy Anna Hazare and his associates, the 74-year-old social activist continues his protest fast for strong anti-corruption legislation. Several eminent people, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have appealed to Hazare to break his fast as his health has been deteriorating. But Hazare is adamant that he will continue until the government tables the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared in Parliament and ensures that it is passed.
This is not Anna Hazare’s first major battle. He has fought quite a few, including several as a soldier for 15 years in the Indian army. He enlisted in the army after the 1962 Indo-China war, when the government exhorted young men to join. In 1978, he took voluntary retirement from the 9th Maratha Battalion and returned home to Ralegaon Siddhi, a village in Maharashtra’s droughtprone Ahmadnagar. At the time he was 39 years old. He found farmers back home struggling for survival and their suffering prompted him to pioneer rainwater conservation, which eventually made the village into a role model. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan—the third-highest civilian award—by the Government of India in 1992 for his efforts in establishing this village as a model for others to follow. “The dream of India as a strong nation will not be realized without self-reliant, self-sufficient villages; this can be achieved only through the social commitment and involvement of the common man,” said Anna Hazare.
In 2008, Anna was awarded the Jit Gill Memorial Award by the World Bank. In 2005, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Gandhigram Rural University. In 2003, he received the Integrity Award from Transparency International. In 1998, he got the CARE International Award from the CARE relief agency. He received earlier awards too: the 1997 Mahaveer Award, 1996 Shiromani Award, 1992 Padma Bhushan by the President of India, 1990 Padma Shri from the President of India, and in 1989 the Krishi Bhushana Award by the Government of Maharashtra. He also received, in 1986, the Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Award by the government of India.
Hazare’s protest for a corruption-free India has no doubt brought back a ray of hope to citizens nationwide, having struck a chord right across India. People have come out in large numbers in his support, forcing the government to engage once again with Team Anna.
“I think corruption has become worse, and if you choose not to participate in this, you leave behind a fair amount of business,” Tata Son’s Chairman Ratan Tata said at an event organized by Harvard Business School.
“What’s happening via Anna’s team signals a great shift of people wanting accountability and not just from politicians, but also from businesses,” said Mahindra & Mahindra Vice Chairman and Managing Director Anand Mahindra.
Political and bureaucratic corruption in India is a major concern. But with Anna – the man, featured as the most influential person in Mumbai by a national daily newspaper, the fight against corruption seems to be more powerful and meaningful. “The real fight begins now. We have a lot of struggles ahead of us in drafting the new legislation; we have shown the world in just five days that we are united for the cause of the nation. The youth power in this movement is a sign of hope,” Anna Hazare said.
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